Carmageddon has the dubious legacy of bringing that classic 1975 B-movie, Death Race 2000, to life and then doubling the carnage and silliness in the process. It’s no wonder that the series is still churning out sequels after all this time.
Max Damage is the latest game in the automotive limb-crushing series, though PC owners may be forgiven for thinking that they’ve seen this game before somewhere. While not a direct copy of 2015’s Carmageddon Reincarnation, it’s pretty close.
In truth, this is one of those games that goes beyond a simple score-based review. Fans of the series have never really needed to be told that the controls are too floaty or the graphics aren’t up to today’s standards, they already know this and are happy enough to ignore such frivolities.
For those who’ve never picked up a Carmageddon game before, though, you’ll need to understand where this game is coming from. Like Earth Defence Force, it’s a series that doesn’t really care for frills, it cares about how many people, cows and other cars you can crush in the limited time you have within a single level. It asks you to mow down pensioners, people in wheelchairs and nuns without prejudice.
Controls are floaty and about as far removed from something like Need For Speed as a cow is to a spacecraft. It takes a little while to get used to for those honed to modern racers, but I’d argue that it suits the madly laid out maps and the arcade-style gameplay and reflects early 90s open world racers.
The game is played out in multi-map levels, each unlocked with a certain amount of points. The first map on each level can be won by three methods; pass all the checkpoints in a lap based course before anyone else, kill all the pedestrians on the map or crush all your fellow racers. It’s a good system that suits the chaos of the franchise well and harks back to the first game.
The other game modes are time trials and other more mundane tasks such as finding targeted victims across the map. All this takes place over some increasingly bizarre themed tracks from an alien landing site to underground caves and the more traditional city landscapes are also back. It doesn’t do things by halves and may well divide the audience because of the humour or over-the-top violence.
Graphics haven’t been updated since last year’s game, which was already showing its age but, to be fair, it’s a smooth game and doesn’t look terrible. Some interesting effects come from the bystanders rather than the cars themselves, with powerups that can send limbs hurtling from a distance or throw and anvil so it would hit a rival car.
I’ve got a list of bugs and issues, but the choice between looking at them and actually going back and playing the game is still a fairly easy one. It’s a silly, fun game that never grew up when others around it were getting all serious. Yes, the AI doesn’t really want to play ball when racing across checkpoints, but it doesn’t really matter all that much in the grand scheme of things.
It’s not big and it’s not clever but yet Carmageddon Max Damage somehow seems to get away on both counts due to the strange joy held within the core game. It’s not going to please everyone, but it will bring a smile to the faces of a few of us.